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October 14, 2020 - October 15, 2020

Disability today and tomorrow: Living in a post-pandemic world

Business Disability Forum Virtual Conference Disability Today and Tomorrow 14 and 15 October 2020 Sponsored by HSBC - globe image and laptop imagery

Date: Wednesday 14 and Thursday 15 October 2020
Time: 9.30am to 4pm BST (both days)

Welcome to Business Disability Forum’s annual conference, generously sponsored by our Partner HSBC.

This year, we’re delighted to bring you a two-day virtual conference and we invite you to join us, wherever you are, as we discuss and debate the most important topics affecting businesses and disabled people in a post-pandemic world.

Find out how to register below. It’s free for our Partners and Members.


Business disability debates: work, life and leisure in a post-pandemic society – building on the positives of lockdown and tackling the negatives
No one could have predicted, nor did they welcome, the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown, yet in the time it has taken place, it has yielded unexpected benefits for some. With the majority of the workforce working from home for the past few months, there aren’t many employers that have a reasonable justification for demanding a return to “traditional” office life.

Our panel will explore: is one of the positives that employers can and should allow more employees, disabled or not, to work from home either permanently or periodically? Does being out of the workplace and change of environment bring more creativity and productivity to an organisation?

On the flip side, and with mixed news on productivity from the ONS, working from home and staying physically apart has had its drawbacks. Isolation and the challenges of staying in touch, checking in on people, and coping have been at the forefront.

So as lockdowns ease – for some of us at least – join us as we discuss how we can keep up, capitalise and build on the trust and flexibility of working from home and the community spirit that has sprung up as neighbours and colleagues look out for one another, while challenging the negatives of loneliness, isolation and the inability to switch off after working hours.

Technology: High tech, low tech, no tech
How different would this pandemic and lockdown have been even a decade or two ago? Technology has allowed many people to retain jobs and connections with family, friends and the wider world as we’ve stayed in our homes – and enabled us to talk, shop and find ways to entertain ourselves or learn new skills from home.

Yet the lockdown hasn’t been the same experience for everyone, while some disabled people are tech savvy and completely at home with the world of technology, others have had a steep learning curve, and some still remain “no tech” needing to shop, bank and work in person.

Join us as our panel discusses the learnings from the past few months and ways in which to ensure that we leave no one behind as we emerge into a new post-pandemic world.

Legal: adjusting to adjustments today
Businesses have become familiar with the term reasonable adjustment or accommodation but what does “reasonable” now mean?

Providing assistance to disabled customers, enabling colleagues and customers to lip read and even the definition of disability has been challenged by Covid-19.

Listen in as our Head of Legal looks at what “reasonable” might mean now as well as discussing the post-pandemic impact of the end of furlough schemes, return to workplaces and combating the risk of redundancy for disabled people.

Business disability global debates: Disability in tomorrow’s world
The virus forced us to think globally but to live locally. Will this continue and what will this mean for global brands? From the energy sector and manufacturing to airlines and the travel industry, might there be some unexpected benefits that emerge from the drastic and sudden effects of a worldwide lockdown?

It’s likely that a global recession is ahead and while the UN Sustainable Development Goals are built on the principle that no one should be left behind, it has been the case that disabled people are more severely impacted by recessions than almost any other group.

Join us as we discuss what can we do to prevent that happening this time and to ensure that as the world moves forward out of lockdown disabled people are not left behind.

Mental health and wellbeing
We welcome back Dr. Wolfgang Seidl – who gave an insightful and very popular talk at our Scottish Conference in January – to discuss how the pandemic and lockdown has affected our mental health and wellbeing.

According to The Lancet by late April 2020, mental health in the UK had deteriorated compared with pre-COVID-19 trends.

Has the pandemic forced us to concentrate on what is really important? What can employers do help support the mental health and wellbeing of colleagues and what can we all do to support each other to ensure that we emerge into a kinder more empathetic post-pandemic world?

Join us as Wolfgang and our panel debate some of the positives and negatives this period has brought and how we can all work together to build a better, mentally healthier world.

Be sure to take a look at the page regularly as we update with the latest line-up of speakers and panellists.

Just fill in the event registration form below our speakers and FAQ to book your place at our virtual event of the year. We’ve provided profiles of speakers and FAQs to guide you.



Q: Will our firewall stop us from playing the video or joining the conference?
A: You shouldn’t have any issues at all playing the video back as it is played via your web browser, which are generally allowed by most firewalls. We recommend checking you are able to play YouTube videos or checking with your IT team.

Q: I will be working from home.  Should I join via my work VPN or Remote Office?
A: We recommend that you do not play the video via your VPN or remote desktop. Instead use a web browser such as Chrome, Firefox or Safari directly on your computer, tablet or phone.

Q: Do I need to download any apps in order to play videos?
A: No, the Business Disability Forum Conference will not require you to download any apps so there is no need to have e.g. Microsoft Teams or Zoom or any other app. The full conference will be played via one video in the link shared in advance of the conference. There will be no need to click on any other links or go anywhere else to view any part of the Conference.

Q: How are you ensuring this event remains accessible?
A: Subtitles will be provided for the full duration of the conference and BSL interpreters will be made available upon request. The Business Disability Forum presentations will be shared in an accessible format for the duration of the event and will be made available in advance upon request. The full agenda will also be shared in advance via an accessible PDF format.

Q: How many colleagues can attend from one organisation?
A: There is no limit on the number of attendees that can attend from one organisation but we do ask that each delegate registers separately.

Q: Do we have to join for the full two days or can we choose talks/panels to attend?
A: No you can come and go as you please. Everyone who registers will be sent a link. Just click on that link anytime you want to re-join the conference or leave it playing in the background or separate device as you choose.

Q: Can I continue to work and check email whilst viewing the conference page?
A: Yes, the video will appear as a normal browser window which can be opened, closed or minimized as you choose.

Q: Can I ask questions throughout the event?
A: A Slido link will be shared as part of the conference joining instructions in order so that you can make comments and ask questions throughout the event. Some of the panel sessions are however pre-recorded so we cannot guarantee that a particular panellist will answer your question but someone definitely will.

Q: Will the conference video be available after the event has taken place?
A: Yes, the full conference video and timed agenda will be available shortly after the event has taken place for colleagues who were unable to join on the day or would like to revisit segments of the conference.

Q: When will the full agenda and timings be available to view?
A: The full agenda and timings will be available two weeks ahead of the conference start date. This means you can plan to be free to watch and participate in all the sessions throughout the two days (recommended – you won’t want to miss anything!)  or pick and choose the ones you simply cannot miss.

Q: Can I watch the conference on my phone/laptop or tablet?
A: Following the link will allow access from any one device at a time. We recommend viewing this page via laptop or tablet and logging in to Slido via your smartphone if you wish to share questions or comments.

Q: Is there a recommended browser for viewing the conference?
A: We recommend using Google Chrome, Safari or Firefox for viewing the Business Disability Forum Annual Conference.

Meet our speakers

Allan MacKillop smiling
Allan MacKillop

Disability Lead for Workforce Strategy at BBC

Aline Santos
Aline Santos

Global Executive Vice President and Chief Global Diversity and Inclusion Officer at Unilever

Alison Dalton
Alison Dalton

Accessibility Manager at British Airways

Bela Gor
Bela Gor

Head of Content, Legal and Campaigns at Business Disability Forum

Beth Hartley
Beth Hartley

Commercial Strategy Manager at Sainsbury’s and Chair of EnAble, Sainsbury's Disability Network

Brendan Roach
Brendan Roach

Global Taskforce and Partner Development Manager at Business Disability Forum

Caroline Casey Photo: Jack Caffrey
Caroline Casey

Founder and Creator of The Valuable 500 

David Brindle
David Brindle

Public Services Editor at The Guardian

Debra Ruh smiling
Debra Ruh

CEO of Ruh Global Impact and Co-Founder at AXSChat

Diane Lightfoot smiling
Diane Lightfoot

CEO of Business Disability Forum

Don Biswas
Don Biswas


Hector Minto smiling
Hector Minto

Accessibility Evangelist at Microsoft

Joanna Wootten
Joanna Wootten

Age and Disability Expert

Lord Shinkwin
Lord Kevin Shinkwin

Life Peer

Liam Pooley side profile
Liam Pooley

Advice Service Manager at Business Disability Forum

Lucy Ruck photo
Lucy Ruck

Taskforce Manager at Business Disability Forum

An image of Lyn Lee
Lyn Lee

Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer at Shell

Neil Milliken
Neil Milliken

Global Head of Accessibility at Atos

Phil Friend leading a discussion with RBS employees at the Scottish Conference
Phil Friend

 Professional Adviser 

Poppy Jaman
Poppy Jaman

CEO of City Mental Health Alliance 

Image of Rick Williams
Rick Williams

CEO of Freeney Williams Ltd

Ruth Fisher
Ruth Fisher

Learning and Development Manager at Business Disability Forum

Simon Minty holding a mic
Simon Minty

Director of Sminty

Trudie Hills
Trudie Hills

Customer Disability Manager at Lloyds Banking Group

Wendy Irwin
Wendy Irwin

Head of Equality and Diversity at the Royal College of Nursing

Dr Wolfgang Seidl
Dr Wolfgang Seidl

Partner and Workplace Health Consulting Leader at Mercer Marsh Benefits

Event Registration

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